Five Tips to Sell Used Books on eBay & Amazon

Five Tips to Sell Used Books on eBay & Amazon

Over the past few years, my book: Sell Used Books on eBay, and the Internet for Profit, has been one of my top selling books. Of all my books, people must like it because, although it comes with a 90-day, money back guarantee, yet has the lowest return rate of any book I sell.  And, I just reduced the price of the book by $10.00

Note: My book on selling used books is about learning the online book business. It is not a how-to sell on Amazon book. If you want to learn how to sell on Amazon, I suggest you look at The Complete Amazon Marketing System.  I also sell a book on Amazon about selling on eBay.  It is called Three Weeks to eBay Profits.

Selling books on eBay, Amazon, and the Internet is one of the easiest online businesses to start. The most difficult problem online sellers have today is finding merchandise they can sell at a profit. Selling used books solves this problem because there is a ready market for used books-and there is ample supply at great prices, as you will learn.

The used book business does not require a large investment to get started and the risk of failure is very low as long as you follow sound business practices and techniques. Selling books on eBay, Amazon and other Internet sites is actually quite easy. You can start with as little as $50 worth of inventory. If you learn how to buy correctly, earning gross profits of 60% to 90% is not that difficult.

Tip #1 – Focus on non-fiction books. The problem with fiction (novels), is that most titles are printed in the millions, whereas most non-fiction books have a first-printing of 40 to 60,000. When there are millions of copies of a book printed, the supply of used copies on eBay and Amazon is so large, that there is just no profit margin to be had unless you happen you find a rare first-edition. Most popular fiction novels end up in the penny book market.

Tip #2 – Learn how to write book descriptions that sell. A really good book on that topic is: How to Write Descriptions that Sell Used Books on Amazon: Easy Ways to Make More Money Selling Used Books on Amazon with Simple Copy writing Templates .

Tip#3 – The best books to buy are the ones that will sell. When you are starting out you will want to stick with non-fiction. Fiction and/or literature, is a  specialized area. If you are knowledgeable in this area, then by all means go for it. But be careful. Collectible literature can be risky.  Sort of like walking through an off-leash dog park in your bare feet blindfolded. (Ask any bookstore owner and they will tell you that non-fiction books make up the majority of their sales.)

When it comes to non-fiction, the narrower and stranger the niche, the better they seem to sell. Some of the best-selling genres include books on military, history of specific events, (stock-market crash, civil war and so on) transportation (cars, motorcycles, boats, planes and trains), Pre-1960 books on engineering, science and medicine and any early medical book, geography and books about geographic events such as The Great Chicago Fire or The California Gold Rush and almost any How-to book – the stranger the better. For example, a book on glove making recently sold on eBay for over $100, whereas books on improving your golf game routinely sell for under $5.00. One genre to avoid are popular self-help books that were also printed in the millions.  These also tend to end up in the penny book market.

Tip#4 – Condition is everything! – As with any collectible, condition is very important. With the exception of very rare books, condition is the most important factor that determines what a book will sell for. I only buy books in very-good or like-new condition. These will always sell faster -and for more money. The other thing to watch out for is the cover on paperbacks, or the dust jacket on hardcovers. In general, books with dust jackets are worth far more than those without. The condition of the dust jacket is also important. A dust jacket, or cover, with even a small tear will detract from a book’s value. (Tip – You can “marry” dust jackets.  I recently had an early book on wood duck carving worth about $90.  The dust jacket was trashed, but I found a good jacket on a book at a library show, I bought for $2.00.  That new dust jacket made my book worth about $160.

Tip#5 – Avoid low-priced books – I look for books that will sell for $10 to $20 or more. You can easily find books for 25¢ to 50¢ that will sell for $4 to $10.00. Now that is a great markup. If you buy a book for a quarter and sell it for $4 you have made a 1600% Markup-Wow! But, you have only made a couple dollars after selling fees. When you pay $,1 and sell a book for $10, you make about $7.50 after selling fees. For the same effort you can make a lot more money on a more expensive book.

When you sell a book and make $3.75 each, you would have to list, sell, pack, and ship 533 books just to make $2,000. But if you pay $3 for a book that sells for $21, you make about $16 a book after fees. Now you only have to sell, pack and ship 130 books to make the same amount of money.

Whenever I write about selling used books, I am often asked about the large number of penny books selling online. Although you will see some non-fiction books selling for 1¢ each, most of the penny books tend to be fiction.

Here is an article by Chris Green of Scan Power that explains the ins and outs of the penny book market. The article is a bit dated, but the explanation is still accurate years later.

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  1. Don’t forget ripping books. I sell patterns in needlework and craft books for more than the book. Also articles about hobbies and interests and vintage advertising. Also magazine articles. Gold mine out there.

    1. Author

      Good Point. I have done that too, but forgot to mention in the book.

  2. Hello,

    Are you aware of any other site other than Bookscouter that offers many companies at one time offering prices for used books ?

    Thanks for reading this. I hope you can help me.


    Barb Hider
    [email protected]

    1. Author

      No – Sorry – I am not.

  3. Purchased your book quite a few years ago, great information and tips and was having some fun and success on ebay. However…how do I now compete with multiple ebay stores that have a million plus listings listings for under $4 delivered? My main question is how they can sell, ship and make any money at that price point?

    1. Author

      That is one of the main reasons I left eBay. I only sell on Amazon now. My suggestion is to find a narrow (unusual) niche on eBay –or move to Amazon like I did.

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